= September 2015 =  
United Bible Studies
the Brainiac Five
Dead Sea Apes
The Wych Elm
The Chocolate Watch Band
Tir Na Nog
Adamennon /Altaj
Seventh Ring of Saturn
Sonic Attack
Golden Void
Beautify Junkyards
Trembling Bells
Lucifer's Friend
Revolutionary Army of the Infant Jesus


CD/DL  (http://www.dwacres.com/label)

Readers of the Terrascope should need no introduction to the musical collective known as United Bible Studies. Since 2001 they have been creating music that is haunting, melancholic, psychedelic, filled with folk melodies and laced with exquisite drones. On this, their latest album, the energies are aligned perfectly, the result an astonishing collection of tunes that creep into your soul making it difficult to listen to anything else once you have heard it.

    Opening with the beautiful “Tossing the Daisies” you are immediately drawn in to the album, soft notes and drones offering a undulating landscape over which Alison O'Donnell sings, the track followed by the even sweeter “The Place of Bays” Piano ans string using almost classical motifs with David Colohan wringing every emotion from the lyrics, a thing of great beauty indeed.

    As the album progresses it seems to become more ethereal and distant,  the drones cloaking the vocals with “Teampall Mholuaidh” seemingly the stepping stone for this transition, a lonely guitar signalling the change before “Diereadh Fomhair” shimmers into existence draping itself around the room and glistening like a sun-lit ocean.

    Calling you in with a peal of bells, “”Winistre” is one of two longer pieces, another gorgeous tune that summons up ancient memories taking you deeper into the mysteries, a sense of timelessness, the musicians seemingly telepathic as they work together for the common good, strings, stringed instruments, percussion and vocals writhing together as the track moves forward until it is hard to tell which is which but easy to get lost in the sound, halfway through the piece lightens into a more traditional song form although the intensity remains and the haze of noise returns at the end.

    As beautiful as autumn, “An Gort Gan Geata” is a gently aching song that highlights the musicians understanding of atmosphere in its gossamer construction and delicate feel.

   To end the album “Islands” is nine minutes of  brooding power mixed with gentle beauty and soft melodies, a summation of all that has gone before, the poetic lyrics matched by the melancholy sweetness of the music.

    If, by some twist of fate, you have never heard any UBS before, then this would be an excellent place to start, if you are a fan then this could possibly be their finest offering so far, I look forward to the next one. (Simon Lewis)



HILLS – FRID (LP/CD/Digital album from Rocket Recordings http://rocketrecordings.bandcamp.com/artists)

There is always going to be a nagging concern that a much anticipated follow-up to a landmark debut is going to fall flat. Gone are the days when a band would put out a tentative range finder, build on it and then struggle with the prospect of the difficult third album. Nowadays (hark at him) the debut is often so rehearsed and finely honed that the sophomore is onto a hiding to nothing. Don’t believe me? Then take a while to think of the number of vaunted hotshots who have come veritable croppers trying to match let alone top their opening salvo. Verily, the road to bargain bin hell is littered with New Dylans and biggest things since the Beatles.

Master Sleeps was Hills’ welcome and deservedly lauded introduction to Rocket’s burgeoning roster of heavyweight and increasingly international acts and these sonic Swedes were one of the memorable highlights of the label’s blistering assault on Liverpool international Psych Fest in 2014 – one of the best days of music your reviewer has been privileged to witness this decade.  So how well does eagerly awaited follow-up Frid slice the Dijon you might ask? Well I’m glad you did because it is gratifying to report that all seems exceedingly in order in this rarefied and mysterious corner of Scandinavia and it all goes a bit like this.

“Kollektiv” is a leviathan ghost ship appearing out of the mist out of the mist, a deep rumbling intro kicks into action unleashing a maelstrom of fret-melting axe work which makes way for sitar before retreating once more into the mist. “National Drone” builds on the raga-esque theme, the drone bit having as much to do with the incantation-style vocals as the music which builds to an intense psychedelic abandon. This is an early stand-out cut that already shows how the band has matured since Master Sleeps.

“Anukthal Is Here” - and I for one am pleased that he or she made the effort – again trades in eastern scales but is dreamier and more laid back with a coda that’s distinctively reminiscent of the theme to some groovy turn of the 70s TV show that you can’t quite put your finger on. It’s but a temporary respite for “Milarepa” jolts you back to attention – oh my poor jangling nerve ends – serving up metallic drone overlaid with freak reeds as if in homage to Hawkwind playing under some woodland Westway. “Och Solen Sankte Sig Röd”– oh my poor spellchecker this time – is another spooky intonation which lopes along most agreeably and hypnotically, playing tickle with the cerebral cortex and is note for note the most compelling track on the album. All of which brings us to “Death Will Find A Way”, a fatalistically titled coda choc-full of backward guitars, bongo tapping, campfire chanting and another slice of retro-cosmic heaven. That’s me joining in, that is.

Whereas label mates and fellow country-folk Goat have only ever held limited appeal for me this is the real deal and not at all contrived-sounding. Not conventionally pretty either, perhaps, but pretty awesome all the same and just as pleasing to the ageing shell-likes than its predecessor in fact its variation of pace and texture may even give it extra legs, only time will tell. Praise indeed you might think and you’d be bang on the money.
No sophomore blues to report. Over and out.

(Ian Fraser)



(Reckless Records)

The Brainiac5 have been around for quite a while. Formed in the mid 1970s from the shards of underground faves Half Human Band, they made a name for themselves in the West country, praised by many both before and after moving to London. Now reconvened, many many years later, the band have a new album "Exploding Universe" which features many melodic pop/rock stormers infused with a kind of bucolic psych, and a tiny hint of punk. Opening with the stomping and tuneful 'Haphazard!' the band go through a great set of mostly uptempo melody-high songs. 'Ordinary Man' is suffused with horns (a new direction for the band) while 'Empty And Blue' is a bluesy slow rocker. The band have acquired a wider range of sounds and styles than before, as evinced by the slow/acoustic 'The Beauty Of It All,' which works very well (shades of Nigel Mazlyn Jones, I thought), as does 'Walls Are Falling Down', which is horn-heavy and uptempo. 'Stars Plan Ahead' is out-and-out reggae (more excellent brass here - hints of 2 Tone), while 'Growing Up' reminded me in sound of X-Ray Spex, as the band hark back to their punk roots. 'Your Body's Alright' has a reggae-ish feel augmented with fuzz guitar, while '(I'm The) Glue' is chunky yet spacious, with a great drum and a great bass sound. Album closer 'Exorcist Plan' also has a bit of a reggae vibe, but slower, with more than a nod to festie sounds and feel. The songs here are good, the attitude is there and there's lots of variety. The kernel of the old band is still present, but there's new woodwind, brass and percussion members. Good vibe, music and production. What's not to like? (Steve Palmer)



Dead Sea Apes – Spectral Domain
(Vinyl from Cardinal Fuzz/Sunrise Ocean Bender https://cful.bandcamp.com/)

What’s there left to say? Ever since Phil McMullen first waxed lyrically about the lyric-free Manchester thrilling threesome on the release of “Soy Dios” in (gorblimey) 2010, DSA releases have been as eagerly awaited as Father Christmas here at Terrascope Towers.

“Spectral Domain” is the band’s third album – their fourth if you count 2013’s The Sun Behind The Sun hook-up with Black Tempest. From the first bars of “Universal Interrogator” it is noticeable that the boys have expanded their sound with the judicious use of synths. This adds further texture to an already full sound without ever falling into the trap of shoving a new toy up the listener’s nose.  Still it’s recognisably Dead Sea Apes with their cinemascopic soundscapes and Brett Savage’s resonating guitar underscored by Chris Hardman’s quasi-shamanic drumming and Nick Harris’ cavernous bass. In fact on “True Believers”, Harris’ booming bass provides the root system to as gripping if not downright scary backdrop to the next offering from the Batman or Sin City franchise – or should be if there is any real justice in the world.

Over on side 2 and the band up their game even further with “The Unclosing Eye”, the air well and truly crackles with tension and this time it’s Hardman’s battery that does the damage. “Brought to Light” coasts by comparisons but while it may be tempting to let your guard down be warned that we’re not finished with yet. “Sixth Side Of The Pentagram” is the pay off, the killer. It’s a  dark and suffocating dub monster of which near neighbours Gnod would surely be proud and it brings the black curtain down on DSA’s most intense and thrilling release so far.

(Ian Fraser)



12” EP/DL

Recorded in warm analogue and mixed hurriedly, this rather excellent eight track slice of yellow vinyl has a definite lo-fi quality that detract not at all from the fuzzed up guitar tune to be found within.

     Opening song “Strawberry” is a three chord fuzz classic with a melodic heart, short and sweet and rockin' my world. Following on “When Someone Mildly Interrupts” adds a simple keyboard line to the mix, plus some excellent lyrics and tongues definitely in cheeks. More melodic and with a chattering sequence running through it, “Marine Life” hooks you in gently then explodes into an angry stomp that deserves volume. To round off the Side Heather, as it is called, the lengthy, by comparison, “Thoth” has some full on guitar soloing and another fuzzed up punk riff, sounding not unlike some of the more underground UK punk such as Zounds, just with some extra guitar courtesy of Tom Verlaine.

   Onto Side Steve and “Sticky Kitten” maintains the energy levels with yet more simple yet effective playing and plenty of noise before “The Girl In The Orange Pants” takes over, early grunge draped all over it, three chords and plenty of attitude the song contrasting nicely with “Queen of Boats” a much gentler song although the fuzz remains defiantly on. To end “Anthropologist” is seventies melodic rock run through the band's filter, creating a sing-a-long classic with plenty of snarl.

    This record may never change the world but it is gonna sound mighty fine at your next party, bring your own drinks. (Simon Lewis)



LP/CD  from Cleo Records

It is a well known fact that early Chocolate Watchband recordings didn't always feature actual band members, something that has always been frustrating for those musicians. Now original members Timmy Abbot, and David Aguilar, who still perform today, have got together with Bill Flores, Gary Andrijasevich and Alby Cozzette to re-record some of those early songs the aim to “Improve the quality but preserve the energy and spirit”. If this seems like a risky business to you (it did to me) then you can relax as the band actually pull it off with style, if this was a new band with new songs we would all be singing this albums praises.

    Opening with the moody psych of “Expo 2000” it is soon obvious what a good idea this was, the production is clear yet not over produced, retaining that fuzzed up sixties sound that we all love, whilst the musicians are in top form and obviously enjoying themselves. Moving on “Are You Gonna Be There (At The Love-In)” still sounds mighty fine with David Aguilar still having that snarl in his voice, whilst “It's All Over Now Baby Blue” has that classic West-Coast feel, a mix of Eric Burdon and  Jefferson Airplane.

   I imagine many of you will be completely familiar with the tunes on this album, yet the band have added some small changes, an extra verse or instrument meaning they sound fresh and warmly nostalgic at the same time, with sparkling out of the speakers and putting a great big smile on your face, the grin remaining as “I Ain't No Miracle Worker” blasts out across the room, reminding you what a great garage track it is.

   To round things of we are treated to a trio of classics with “I'm Not Like Everybody Else” having plenty of energy, “Let's Talk About Girls” retaining its sense of sixties fun and “Inner Mystique” floating us out beautifully with plenty of psychedelic flute to be heard in its lysergic haze.

    Whilst this album may not be essential it is still great to know the band are in good shape and it would make an excellent christmas present, get someone to buy it for you and have a good time, Are you gonna be there ? (Simon Lewis)



(www.tirnanog-progfolk.com )
(Tír na nÓg Records)

Legend is a word we have to use carefully in music. Too often utilised, perhaps, but Tír na nÓg can rightly be described as legends - forty years of musical work, classic albums, countless gigs and a reputation the envy of many. So now we come to their first new studio album in a long time, "The Dark Dance," in which the duo, Leo O'Kelly and Sonny Condell, are aided by Garvan Gallagher on bass and autoharp. Opening with a slow, melancholy cut 'You In Yellow' ("You in yellow, the gorse in flower"), the acoustic guitar/violin pairing works beautifully. 'I Have Known Love' has a wider musical palette and is another fine song. 'The Angelus' brings in Sonny Condell on main vocal, its waltztime rhythm augmented by bass and bass vocals (these being particularly effective). An album highlight, this. 'I Pick Up Birds At Funerals' has a strong melody and an understated, loping rhythm; there's a hint of the 'sixties in this one, and it works really well. 'Ricochet' has a bit of a trad folk vibe to it, but there is also more than a hint of exotic climes: the percussion, the stringed instruments and the key - a really lovely sound (the whole album has been recorded to perfection), with the vocal acquiring a mystical echo. 'Andria' returns the listener to calmer, more acoustic territory with a song of girls and all those things to do with girls, while 'Sympathetic Love' brings in Garvan Gallagher to great effect; an evocative vocal here too. 'The Gangway' is perhaps the nearest song on the album to trad folk, 'Time Is Gone' matches a mournful tale with stacked backing vocals, while album closer - the title track - is a terrific, wonderfully atmospheric combination of violins and drone written by Elly Lucas. Following three classic Chrysalis albums from the early to mid 1970s, this new work is a testament to the musicality and vision of this band. Highly recommended. (Steve Palmer)



LP/DL (http://www.labasheeda.nl/)

Mixing gypsy violin with grungy guitar lines, Dutch band Labasheeda make a glorious noise on this, their fourth album,that is filled with inventive songs and plenty of passion.

     Opening in gentle style, the sweet vocals and melody of “Spiral Song” are slowly but surely drowned out by a heavy guitar riff that cuts through the sweetness, the track alternating between the two as it moves along. Slow and moody, “My Instincts”  retains the heaviness reminding me of Sonic Youth if they had recorded for 4AD, the song again containing plenty of dynamics. More energetic and possibly sounding like a classic Sub Pop band, “Head” is one of the album's highlights, the band locked into a heavy groove that gets your head nodding. Changing style again, yet retaining their own identity, “On the Beach” has a more seventies rock feel, a bit of a boogie with great vocals and some fine drumming to boot.

   Basically a three piece, it is amazing that the band create such a thick sound, something that puts “Cold Water” up a notch or two, some dirty guitar riffs punching out of the speakers in a thoroughly modern way pleading with you to turn the volume way up. Ending side one the title track is mellower in texture, the instruments creating a delightful web of sounds that captures the ear.

     Over on side two, there is more of the same with “Tightrope” being a heavy track with slide guitar running through it sounding like a grunge version of southern rock, hitting the sweet spot as it does so, whilst “Leave of Absence” showcases the violin work of Saskia Van Der Giessen beautifully, a delightful and melancholic piece of music.

   This whole album is a noisy and fully realised delight, throw in an excellent cover of “Circles” (Pete Townsend) and you have a collection stands proud, plenty to enjoy and pressed on lovely translucent blue vinyl as well, fabulous. (Simon Lewis)



(SPLIT LP Boring Machine)

Keeping up their quality control, Boring machine bring us an excellent split LP featuring two exponents of experimental drone,the album housed in a beautiful, if slightly confusing sleeve, the whole package oozing quality throughout.

     Offering three slices of sound Adamennon takes us deep into the mystery, with “Manvantara” being a brief rustle in the forest, the sound of twigs breaking, the scurrying of animals or the crackle of a fire. After this introduction “Niranyagarbha” is the sound of the plains, a whispered drone that shimmers with delicate precision, darker sounds weaving themselves in and out of the mix, the track slowly becoming denser, taking on a life of its own as it writhes through the landscape like an ancient serpent looking for its next meal. Finally, “Pralaya” has a deep bass rumble and a high pulse, sounding like electronic crickets heralding the evening, the hypnotic nature of the track pulling you deep inside it until nothing else exists but the ghostly atmosphere and your own breathing.

   With both artists taking Asian animism and stories from Tibet and Mongolia as their inspiration it is no surprise that this album is loaded with atmosphere something very abundant on “Syngaaga”, the first of two tracks from Altaj, the piece a slow moving drone the creeps across the room rising and falling as though alive, the range of tones and textures ensuring that you remain engaged, lost in time and space. Retaining a similar atmosphere, “Teletskoje” has a more drifting quality as if loosed from the earth, the texture of hallucinogenic visions interwoven through the track, music to be listened to by the light of a single flickering candle.

   With both artists demonstrating their power, this is an excellent release that demands concentration and solitude to really appreciate its beauty. (Simon Lewis)



LP/DL bandcamp

Sounding like the bastard son of Big Black and the Honolulu Mountain Daffodils, Quttinirpaaq are not something to be heard at low volume, instead you should just turn the fucker up and let “Bleed Out”, the opening track, steam-roll right over you in a squall of noisy guitars, pounding drum machines and vocals so fuzzed out that they become mere sounds. Following on “White Witch” relies on a distorted bass for its engine, the tune equally as nasty with a low end rumble that never lets up until “Kentucky Meat Shower” takes over sounding like an alien spacecraft landing in your garden and you know these aliens are up to no good.

    If you own either of the band's previous albums then this review should sound familiar as all the trademark distortion and noise levels are present and correct with “Teen Cop” hardly recognisable as a song, so close is it to a wall of grinding post punk drone, although if you listen closely there is rhythm in there somewhere. To round off side one “Dead Birds” has a meaty guitar riff and chugs along nicely, heads nodding and plenty of volume sounding not unlike something by the Butthole Surfers. Of course, just as you get into the groove the tune disintegrates around you, more distorted noise anyone ?

    Over on side two, “Lifestyle USSR” has a metallic shimmer running through it, the tune sounding like it is coming from another room, or possibly dimension, its style more experimental eschewing the noise approach for something more sinister and intriguing.

    Returning to the alien craft, “Spine Tree” throbs with machine energy, stalking the room with its engines ready for take-off, are you gonna hitch a ride? Finally, “Walk Into the Sea” is a woozy slice of industrial chaos that is disorientating and disturbing as if something bad is happening close by yet you can't see it. Slowly a creeping bass line takes control, the sound of paranoia made flesh, time having no meaning in this hostile environment.

     Relentless, creative and magnificent in its never ending quest for oblivion,  I find myself returning to this album frequently, when the wife is out, go and have a listen. (Simon Lewis)



(LP from http://www.tsros.com/ )

Featuring a brace of new guitarists, the second album from this Psych-Rock combo shows a definite progression from their self-titled debut, the songs having more focus with the guitars burning into your brain, a solid rhythm section allowing the album to flow beautifully.

    Opening tune “Burning a Hole” has a warm bass line at its core, the guitars adding a gorgeous psychedelic swirl, the whole thing sounding like a lost gem from swinging London in 1967. On “Teli Teli Teli” there is an Eastern feel, the musicians taking off for a glorious trip around the sun before “Time To Fly” rocks out, some heavy guitar tempered by sweet vocals, the whole thing reminding me of Bevis Frond which is a good thing in my book.

  Throughout the album the playing is excellent and the clear mix allows the guitars to shine out whilst the rhythm section lays down a solid groove underneath, something very apparent on “”Karli Daglar” another Eastern jam that hits the sweet spot and reminds me of the first album from Smell of Incense.

    Once you have flipped over the delightful glow in the dark vinyl you are treated to a fine version of “Faces” (T.C. Atlantic) that retains the feel of the original and includes a harder edge and yet more excellent fretwork, in fact this album is riddled with some magnificent guitar throughout with “Yedikule” being a prime example as the band stretch out for deep space, the magic continued on “Ulzun Ince Bir Yoldayim”, one of my favourite tracks on the collection, a relaxing groove perfect for shutting your eyes and drifting off. To end the album “Spaceman” (Hurdy Gurdy) is a heavy guitar workout with plenty of bite, the musicians obviously enjoying themselves, a fine way to end a collection that has been getting plenty of airtime recently.

   Housed in a unique hand stamped sleeve, pressed on glow in the dark vinyl and containing some magnificent music, what's not to like ?
    Also available, and pressed on the same lovely vinyl is a 7” single with covers of “Mountains of the Moon” (Grateful Dead) and “All the World Is Love” (The Hollies) with the former getting a heavier seventies boogie groove that works wonderfully, whilst the latter has a Psychedelic sheen drifting over it like incense smoke. (Simon Lewis)


Sonic Attack at Liverpool Psych Fest - Stay Holy
(Vinyl from Cardinal Fuzz https://cful.bandcamp.com/)

If the first wave of announcements for this year’s Liverpool International Festival of Psychedelia was thoroughly underwhelming then redemption came quickly and totally with news that the organisers had decided to give Cardinal Fuzz their own slot. Really, it doesn’t get much better than that, does it?
Well what better way to commemorate the occasion than by putting out a tie-in featuring a few CF staples (that’s not an old American soul singer by the way) some of whom at least will be appearing as part of “Sonic Attack” and also featuring The Heads, Lumerians and The Cult of Dom Keller. We kick off, though, with White Manna, who are sitting out this year’s event. “Slow Dust” is a high-octane, supercharged slug of psych psychosis and while it is ever churlish to find fault with California’s rising sons in this case six minutes might have made even more of a compelling statement than ten. Less is sometimes more, you see.

Now Portugal’s Black Bombaim were astonishingly good at last year’s Psychfest and their pugnaciously heavyweight “Alexandria” provides exceptional value here although if anyone can top that it’s Dead Sea Apes. While I’m sorry not to catch Big Naturals who were originally slotted in but had to withdraw due to prior commitments few would begrudge the Apes what ought to have been a rightful place on this year’s bill. So delighted was I at the news that I did a little jig which must have turned out to be a rain dance given the six weeks of unseasonal weather we endured immediately thereafter. I digress. “Coronal” (which, incidentally, was originally mooted for the forthcoming Terrascope compilation “Paper Leaves”. Fear not, we’ve got something equally as good in store) is a classic example of the band’s smouldering, layered cinematic synapse-tickling instrumentals with the addition of slow-rinse synths.

I’m afraid the jury has been out for a long while on Carlton Melton as far as I am concerned. For me they have never quite fulfilled what on paper is considerable potential. “Bloody Mary Jane” whilst not as instantly gratifying as the first three cuts here is lively enough and reminiscent of a more fully formed Hawkwind circa 1971. It holds the ring, certainly. Finally it’s Kandodo 3 captured live at Loop’s ATP in 2013 during their “chill-in” set first thing on Saturday and, true to form here, it’s another instrumental (aside from White Manna’s heavily scrambled mutterings it’s all quiet on the vocal front here) and eases us gently to base camp

In the wake of Rocket’s Stellar Saturday curation at last year’s PZYK the prospect of the Cardinal Fuzz roster going head to head and spurring one another on to greater things is a mouth-watering prospect to be sure. Not long to go now but in the meantime here’s a delectable hors d’oeuvre to fill a hole.
(Ian Fraser)



(CD/LP/Download from Thrill Jockey www.thrilljockey.com)

Second full outing from Berkeley California outfit led by Isaiah Mitchell of marathon psych-jammers Earthless which despite its lineage isn’t as gnarly as you’d imagine. Here be vocals, too, courtesy of Isaiah and backed by Keyboard player Camilla Saufley-Mitchell (Assemble Head in Sunburst Sound). OK so opening salvo “Burbank’s Dream.” does hint at metallicus dramaticus and slabs of sabs but it is also radio friendly and, by Jove, Thrill Jockey may well have a struck a crock of gold with this one. Cream then meet The Sadies head on for “Silent Season” which also features a neat little Tex-Mex guitar run a howling in the desert, but oh dear, lose a mark for that fade ending. “Astral Plane” is the first and possibly only, track that comes close to doing justice to Golden Void’s vaunted psychedelic tag and is good in texture and delivery, whilst “I’ve Been Down” Is, if not a master class, then certainly a fair old stab at the school of riffage whereas “The Beacon” shows that they can take the foot off the pedal and still deliver.
Timeless and, if not particularly strange, then certainly appealing in a classic rock sense without ever appearing tired, clichéd or hamfisted. Doubtless there are some out there who’d shake their heads and possibly fists and wonder why it was they bothered to fight the punk wars. Well they can ponder that one all they like. Some of us moved on light years ago, even if that occasionally means moving back. Unashamed, unapologetic, and I guess that applies to this album too.
Ian Fraser



(Vinyl/CD from Negative Positive available from www.vinylkiosk.com

Greek combo Zenerik cook up an avant-garde blend of minimalist jazz/psychedelia and the resulting dish is a flavoursome if perhaps acquired taster of Gong bashing out Eric Dolphy’s free jazz (anti) classic “Out To Lunch”. If that sounds a little weird then it’s because it probably is but it also works, especially “Deliverance”, the most fully formed of the five main entities here and which grooves along beautifully with a mellowing lope, the various reeds playing to subtle and quite mesmerising effect over a steady rhythm, supplemented by some gentle moog and melodic guitar. The CD contains three bonus tracks – or to be more precise, three versions of a composition entitled “Fear”, all good. (Ian Fraser)



(CD from Hand/Eye www.darkhollerarts.com)

Standard issue Grails/Mogwai derivative post-rockers which the many fans of the aforementioned may find of interest. Loud follows quiet sure as night follows day with the result that it can all become a bit predictable, although there are moments of inspiration particularly on “Astral Burial”, which cooks on gas when it lets rip, and in some of the spacey and more experimental segments. While there is a tendency to rely too heavily on the “mandolin guitar” sound, a big plus is that the drummer possesses a wonderful lightness and dexterity of touch which helps keep proceedings out of the humdrum. He’s a class act and deserves to go far. (Ian Fraser)



(CD from Luova Records www.luovarecords.com)

Pitched musically somewhere between Zenerik and Nights (and geographically in Finland), Humionoita impress with jazz tinged post-rock which combines a neat blend of soulful, sometimes meaty instrumentals with the occasional wisp of what the liner notes describe as shamanistic vocal harmonies. The effect at times is not dissimilar to a funked-up stoner version of the Doors (“Hymn 23” for instance) and is much less formulaic and more interesting than the average quiet/loud. Heavier on “The Pilgrim” which wakes up a pleasantly Canterbury-ish main theme, although the keys reflect “No Quarter”/Animals-era Floyd. Heinz 57 you say? Well maybe but variety being the spice of life this well and truly deserves a listen. (Ian Fraser)



(LP/CD from Mega Dodo www.mega-dodo.co.uk)

Hailing from Lisbon, Portugal and singing in Portuguese and English, Beautify Junkyards ply an exceedingly Anglophile trade in lazy, hazy acid folk, their pastorally psychedelic sound practically dripping with the fruits of late summer and early autumn. Over the course of a dozen or so exquisitely organic and disarmingly gorgeous self-penned numbers they invoke nature in all her glory and I defy anyone not to listen to this without chilling out complete wearing the soppiest grin they can muster. Imagine if Stereolab or, more appositely perhaps, Soundcarriers, had taken more of their inspiration from late 60s freak folk and you’ll get an idea of what this is about. Not that it is in anyway time-warped as the band make judicious use of synths and effects to give a contemporary boost which in turn lends a narcotic quality to a sound grounded in timelessness. Songs like “Rainbow Garland” and “Pes Na Areia Na Terra Do Sol” are gossamer-light, magical creations and by the time the female half of the vocal pairing intones “you will discover the valley of wonders” (from “Valley Of Wonders”) you can be forgiven for thinking you already have. Possibly the find of the year, so far.
(Ian Fraser)



(LP/CD from Tin Angel Records http://www.tinangelrecords.co.uk)

Here, then, is the Bells’ fifth album and their first in quite a while. In fact it’s the first I’ve given an end-to-end airing since their debut, Carbeth, which was decent enough without ever quite justifying the “saviours of folk rock” tag with which the band were unfairly saddled. This is better. Lavinia Blackwall’s lavish, operatic voice shines like a polished diamond on the opening “Between The Womb And The Tomb”, an intoxicating Arabic-style romp, while on “Killing Time In London Fields” for example she affects a more than passable Siouxie Sioux fronting some Hammond-driven beat combo. Blackwall alternates vocals with drummer and main songwriter Alex Neilson who sounds as if he could be Paolo Nutini’s consumptive brother and that, believe it or not, is a good thing. His songs are also the more idiosyncratic and, stylistically and vocally, it is easy to see how the band’s recent hook-up with Mike Heron must have been such an appealing proposition to both parties. In fact you can imagine Mr Heron slipping seamlessly into the vocal duties on tracks such as “Sweet Death Polka”. Meanwhile “O, Where Is Saint George” would make a great if rather off-kilter pub sing along (if the pub happened to be the one in “Sir Henry At Rawlinson’s End”). The piece de resistance though is “Is Someone Else “ (except the A61 doesn’t quite have the same ring as Route 66) which is a disconcerting, turbo- charged cut and shunt of Jefferson Airplane and RunRig.
Dark, lyrically complex, inventive and entertaining. Result.
(Ian Fraser)



(Vinyl LP from All Time Low Productions https://theoscillation.bandcamp.com/)

As it says it on the lid, Beyond The Mirror is a collection of rarities and material blinking its first into the daylight and sees Demian Castellanos and co on stellar form once more. Titles such as “Braindrainer”; “Kissing The Sun” and “Endless Oblivion” give you some idea that their musical direction isn’t about to land them right outside the X-Factor studios any time soon and glory be for that. The first of the afore-named is a monster instrumental and dark, cavernous sound of the underground, its urgency propelled by some energetic drumming, all of which sets the pulse racing and sets a pretty decent pace. Castellanos gets to open the old larynx a bit on “Waste The Day” and out pours, or perhaps that should be lopes, tripped-out vocals over lashings of reverb, a Start / Taxman backbeat and some killer Barrett guitar. “Endless Oblivion” it is, though, that delivers the dark and dirty distillation of what some of us revere above all else among the wondrous psychedelic diaspora and which we cling to in times of desperation (or else in the face anodyne mediocrity). Squalls of guitars overlay an insistent rhythm and repetitive drones that sound eerily like a lost and lonesome tomcat at 2 a.m. This one really is a nasty nocturnal – and danceable - treat and one which contrasts sharply with the ambient washes of ambient sound on “Crystalline Tears”, the lengthy and dreamily melodic coda, “The Detour” and, to a lesser extent, with the intriguingly trippy “The Mirror Pool” and the skipping motorik vibes of “Kissing The Sun”, which back in the day might have graced a Hawkwind album around the time of Warrior or Astounding Sounds.

Beyond The Mirror is the second odds and sods release from Castellanos this year following on from his collection of bedroom recordings (“The Kyvu Tapes”) and while both are thoroughly welcome and this one especially is unreservedly recommended, it would be great to see a host of new material at some stage soon. Feed us…please.

(Ian Fraser)



(CD from http://heepfiles.info/jl/lfawake.htm)

Probably best known for having future Uriah Heep vocalist John Lawton in their ranks, Lucifer's Friend were a classic hard rock band treading the line between Prog and early metal their sound very similar to Heep with a touch of Zeppelin thrown in for good measure.

    Having recently re-formed, this album collects together their most popular tunes plus four new songs recorded in 2015 and featuring three original members and a new drummer.

    Rocking out from the start “Ride the Sky” will remind you of Zeppelin as it struts from the speakers, loud and proud, you just have to turn it up and enjoy. With some great organ/guitar interplay in the middle section, “In The Time Of Job” is another winner, reminding me of Atomic Rooster the tune is the epitome of seventies rock and you can see why Heep wanted Lawton to join them, a move that actually caused Lucifer's Friend to split up at the time.

    To complete an excellent opening trio, “Keep Going” is slow burning and heavy, the tune oozing a doomy atmosphere as it rocks out, the organ adding texture and grit to the song, a fine guitar solo the icing on the cake.

     Slowing thing down for a while, “Burning Ships” is a classic seventies ballad, complete with sound effects and bongos, whilst “Moonshine Rider” gets you in them mood for a bit of a boogie. To end the first disc “Hey Driver” shows how the band progressed from the early days, a more sophisticated sound that reflects the eleven years (1970-1981) between the opening track and this tune, the band retaining their heaviness yet having a lighter touch with the keyboards playing a more prominent role.

    Fast forward to now and disc two contains four brand new tunes that show that can still rock out, with “Pray” having a pounding rhythm and plenty of melodic sweetness, nothing has changed and that is a good thing. Possibly my favourite of the four new tracks, “Did You Ever” shows that it was a good decision to reform, the sound still there with more guitar/keyboard interplay and plenty of changes to be found within the tune. Finally, “This Road” has a nicely distorted guitar reminding me of early Magnum, not a band that gets much mention in the Terrascope but there you go.

   So, a good selection of tunes from a band that never had that elusive hit single or killer album, not essential but definitely worth hearing after a couple of beers.

(Simon Lewis)



(CD/LP/DL from http://www.occultation.co.uk/)

Having released two albums, two EP's as well as playing several multi -media shows The Revolutionary Army of Jesus disappeared under the radar for 18 years, re-surfacing just recently to play some new shows and oversee a boxed set of their earlier albums. So well did these events go that the band decided a new album was a worthwhile project and this collection was born.

     Using samples, a wide range of instruments and plenty of friends, as well as a spiritual outlook and sense of the mysteries that surround us, this album is a thing of great beauty and passion, the music and sampled words working together in an emotional way that will stop you in your tracks on occasion, forcing you to listen and replay.

    Ushering us in with Latin and an aching musical background, “Song of the Soul” slowly expands its horizons, strings and vocals unfolding around the listener until you are fully immersed, percussion keeping you grounded as your spirit takes flight. With a gently rolling piano, “All Is grace” is equally as delightful the music rising into a droning chant before receding once more, the simplicity of the music its strength, emotion at the heart of this track and every other on the album.

      With a more traditional song based structure, “Apres Le Temps” remains beautiful, whilst “Procession” is an incense fuelled mix of drone, chant and percussion, reminding me of music from “666” (Aphrodites Child), or “Earth” (Vangelis), both albums having a similar feel to this one.

     Quite possibly at the centre of this album is the quote/sample at the beginning of “Bright Field”, words so powerful that they force you to listen again, sadly the CD offers no clue as to their origin and maybe that fact actually maintains their purity and sense of wonder and truth, the music that follows equally as emotional, the instrumentation singing of missed opportunities and a longing for home.

    As the album moves on we remain deep within the mystery, a sense of longing, of searching for something ever present, with the piano on “A crowd of Stars” offering classical motifs that float under the lyrics and poignant melodies, whilst “Before the Ending of the Day” slowly leads us out, as if in procession, a slow sweet dirge complete with ringing bell and sense of divine ritual.

     It is hard to compare this album with any other current music, but fans of United Bible Studies will surely enjoy this almost sacred collection that is beautifully crafted and deeply personal. (Simon Lewis)